The UChicago Theology Workshop

Welcome to 2012! Please join the Theology Workshop as we embark on our Winter quarter theme: “Reckoning with Scriptures”, at 12:00 pm, Monday, January 9th — Swift 200.

Our first presentation is that of Evan Kuehn, 2nd year PhD student in Theology. Evan will offer a constructive proposal inspired by Schleiermacher’s  Glaubenslehre that incorporates his account of the threefold office of Christ into a new reading of the cry of dereliction. It will propose an interpretation that revises Schleiermacher’s explicit conclusions about the event of Christ’s abandonment by God while hewing closely to the structure, content, and purpose of Schleiermacher’s doctrine of the person and work of the Redeemer. Instead of following Schleiermacher by interpreting the godforsakenness of Jesus as problematic for His unique and persistent dignity as Redeemer, Christ’s godforsakenness will be explained as the end of the prophetic office of Christ.

Kyle Rader, 4th year PhD student in Theology, will respond.

The paper will be available through the Theology Workshop listserve, but no preparation is expected of attendees of the workshop. Like last quarter, presentations will range 25-30 minutes, with a 5-10 minute response and roughly 45 minutes for discussion. A light lunch will be provided.

Reckoning with Scriptures, Winter 2012

Theologians and their analogues across a huge array of religious traditions consider certain texts to be uniquely authoritative, and themselves to be somehow accountable to them. The extent and manner of their response to sacred texts, however, are highly variable even within single communities. Furthermore, the study of theology and the study of scripture have come to occupy largely separate spheres in most North American and European universities and seminaries. This arrangement has not been fruitless, but there is a growing discomfort with it in many quarters. For instance, the dominance of the historical-critical paradigm has been contested by liberationist, feminist, queer and other reading strategies, including many that would retrieve classical forms (e.g. Patristic or Talmudic) of exegesis as normative. This quarter’s presentations will explore the relation of theology to scripture, in ways that wrestle with the hermeneutical, political, epistemic, ethical, and ecclesiological problems indigenous to scriptural traditions.

“Existence and Extinction: Ecology, Ethics, and Theology Between Individual and Communal Mortality”

Monday, November 14th, 2011

12:00-1:30 pm

Swift Hall 201, University of Chicago



Please join us for a unique workshop and panel discussion of multidisciplinary approaches to species extinction, co-hosted by the University of Chicago Theology Workshop and the Zygon Center’s Religion and Science Student Society.

What religious or philosophical account is to be taken of an ecological process that eliminates not only individuals, but entire categories of beings? What ethical knots might exist around causing the extinction of a parasite, or preventing the extinction of an organism through genetic modification? How do the practitioners of ecological science engage with and speak to cultural expectations to find meaning in the natural world? Our panelists will begin by presenting reflections on the challenges and possibilities that extinction poses to their disciplines. Then there will be a moderated discussion between the panel and the workshop attendees.


-Dr. Paul G. Heltne — Primatologist, Conservationist, and President Emeritus, Chicago Academy of Sciences

-Willa Lengyel — PhD Student in Theological Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School

-Dr. Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF — Professor of Catholic Theological Ethics, Catholic Theological Union


-Aaron Hollander — PhD Student in Theology, University of Chicago Divinity School


This event is free and open to the public.  No registration is necessary. A light lunch will be provided.

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance should contact Kyle Rader at in advance.

The Theology Workshop invites you to join us on Monday, October 31, 12:00 – 1:30 PM in Swift 106, for a presentation and discussion of the significance of place for theological anthropology. This workshop will be led by Mary Emily Duba (PhD student in theology); Jeff Fowler will respond, and the workshop will be invited to think constructively and collaboratively around our theme.

“You are here.”  Behind this simplest of sentences lies a significant theological claim: What the human being is, as a creature made in the image of God, and who the human being is, in her dignity and difference, are intimately related to where the human being lives out her “being human.”  Historically, theological anthropology has understood the human person in abstraction from the particularities of place—as rational, for example, or relational. This abstraction distorts our understanding of the human person.

From Eden, through the wilderness, in the upper room, to the New Jerusalem, the Judeo-Christian scriptures tie their theological imagination to place.  From the loss of place in modern societies to the testimonies of climate refugees, ethical anthropological reflection demands attention to human experiences of emplacement and displacement.  In this workshop,  we will explore together the possibilities and implications of “re-grounding” theological anthropology, seeking insight into what it means to be homo geographicus, dwelling under the heavens and on the earth.

This workshop is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. Costumes optional.

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Aaron Hollander at or Kyle Rader at in advance.

The Theology Workshop is pleased to invite you to the first of our papers for the year on Monday (10/17) from 12:00-1:30 in Swift 201. Brett Colasacco, a Ph.D. student in History of Christianity, will present remarks based on his paper “A Patron Saint for Post-Humanism?  Francis of Assisi, Deep Ecology, and the Political Order.” Unlike in previous years, the presentation will be approximately 25 minutes and will not presume any preparation on the part of participants. However, the paper is available through the Theology Workshop listserve or by emailing Kyle Rader at, and we encourage participants who are able to read it in advance.

Daniel Schultz, Ph.D. student in Philosophy of Religions, will give a prepared response. The floor will then be open to everyone for questions, feedback, and discussion. A light lunch will be provided.

On Tuesday, October 4th, the Theology Workshop is honored to host, in collaboration with the Martin Marty Center, a special event at the Divinity School. Fr. John Chryssavgis, advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on ecological issues, will join us for a public lecture and discussion: “Creation, Iconography, and Spirituality: Insights into an Eco-Theological Worldview.”

Through an Orthodox Christian lens, perceiving, respecting, and responding to the world around us are disciplines for sustained and sustainable religious commitment. This presentation will illuminate the art, song, and spiritual practice of the Christian East as they attend to the natural environment, the human role in an Earth community, and our responsibility in caring for all creation.

Please join us at 4:30 pm, in Swift 106, for this unique and exciting contribution, which doubles as a Keynote address for this Autumn’s workshop theme, “Theology and the Earth.” This event is free and open to the public.



John Chryssavgis is a deacon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and currently serves as theological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on ecological issues. He completed his doctoral studies in Patristics at the University of Oxford (1983), and his teaching since has covered wide-ranging theological, political, socio-cultural, liturgical, and ecological topics. His research has specialized in the ascetic thought and practice of early Christianity, especially from the desert tradition of Egypt (4th century) through the regions of Palestine (5th-6th centuries) and Sinai (7th century). Fr. Chryssavgis was appointed Professor of Theology at Holy Cross School of Theology in 1995 and directed the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College until 2002. He established the Environment Office at the same School in 2001. Among his numerous publications are included: Beyond the Shattered Image (1999); The Body of Christ (2002); In the Heart of the Desert (2003); Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer (2003); The Reflections of Abba Zosimas (2004); and Remembering and Reclaiming Diakonia (2009). He has also edited three volumes of the official statements by the Ecumenical Patriarch, published with Fordham University Press (2010-2012), the last of which focuses exclusively on environmental issues.

"The Transfiguration," Church of St. Apollinare, Ravenna


On Monday April 23, at noon in S201, the Theology Workshop will gather to discuss a paper by David Newheiser entitled:

“Eckhart and Derrida on the Gift of Love”

The paper should be read before coming to workshop.

Aaron Hollander will respond.

Lunch will be provided.

The Theology Workshop is pleased to announce that Romain Dufetre will be giving a short lecture and leading a discussion on the historical criticisms and current prospects of Anselm’s ontological argument on Monday, 5/16 at noon. Place TBA.

A light lunch will be served.

All are welcome.

At long last, the audio recording of the conference “Love and Justice in the Christian Tradition” (featuring Professor Nicholas Wolterstorff and Professor Oliver O’Donovan and co-sponsored by the Theology Workshop and the Ethics Club) is available. We apologize to those of you who have been waiting some time for this, but technical difficulties thwarted the immediate posting of this recording. Having said that, the Theology Workshop would like to thank Bryce Rich, without whose help and generous offer to host the recording on his own website we would still be unable to digitally bring this stimulating encounter between two important scholars to you.


On Monday April 25, at noon in S201, the Theology Workshop will gather to discuss a chapter of Karl Hefty’s dissertation entitled:

“Philosophy and God (or the Idea of God): A Subversion of the Ontological Argument”

Josh Connor will respond.

The paper should be read before coming to workshop.

Lunch will be provided.

On Thursday April 14, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., the Theology Workshop will co-host a conference with the Ethics Club entitled “Justice and Love in the Christian Tradition.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology Emeritus from Yale University and Oliver O’Donovan, Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh, will be delivering papers and dialoging on the themes of love and justice.

Professor Wolterstorff will present from 3:00-4:30; Professor O’Donovan will present from 4:30-6:00.

The event will be hosted in the Third Floor Lecture Hall of the Divinity School.

The event is free and open to the public

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